Janet Christie’s Mum’s the Word

He’s leaving home - but Eldest hasn’t really gone

Right, that’s me away,” says Eldest Child passing me in the hallway carrying several jackets and a couple of guitars. “See you later. Em… sorry about the mess in my room, I’ll be back, clear it up...” He reaches the door, comes back and gives me a cuddle, then he’s off

I wander into the kitchen and say to Middle. “I think your brother’s just left home.”

“Mum, he left home four years ago. When he went to uni.”

“Yeah, but he came back, and this was still officially his ‘home’. Now he’s got his own flat and I’m feeling a bit… well flat.”

“It’s only round the corner. And it’s just a place. No matter where you go, home is always where your mum is,” says Middle (who knows how much flats cost to rent).

“Aw, sniff,” I say and decide to savour the piquancy of the moment. Sigh, it’s the end of an era I’m thinking as I climb the stairs to Eldest’s room, nothing will be the same again. I can feel a tear building behind my lower lashes as I turn the corner and encounter a fetid pile of Eldest’s dirty washing. Grrr. The tear dries.

In his room, I notice Tigger’s gone but there are guitars, A4 sheets of lyrics littering the floor along with pizza boxes, boxers, crusty concertina-ed socks, an empty rosé bottle, there are flung back sheets on a slept in bed...

It’s like Flannan Isles, without the mystery, and I’ve gone from bereft to boiling. I’ll give him ‘left home’, he’s only round the corner. I know where he lives.

Although... he did say he’d be back to clear it up, so I let the weekend pass.

First thing Monday morning my mobile rings. It’s Eldest.

“Hello. How are you?” he says.

“Good thanks. You?”


“How’s the flat?”

“Great, great. Had people round on Saturday, then yesterday enjoyed chilling. So, em... sorry to phone first thing in the morning asking for money... but you know you were going to pay for my next driving lesson…”

“Sure. And you know you were going to tidy your room…”

The more things change, the more they stay the same.